As Princes William and Harry lament the transience of the final moments with their mother, Diana, as yet undisclosed footage of the former Princess of Wales discussing her unhappy marriage will finally be broadcast to the public.
Tapes recorded by speech expert and vocal coach, Peter Settelen, that have remained classified for nearly 30 years will be aired on television as part of a documentary about Princess Diana. Settelen was, at the time, acting as Diana’s voice coach, when the former royal divulged intimate details of her tumultuous marriage to Prince Charles.
The announcement comes in the wake of an exclusive documentary that premiered Monday night on ITV and HBO. Diana, Our Mother, chronicled personal anecdotes and reflections from Princes William and Harry on the death of their mother.
William and Harry described the final conversation they had with Diana before she was killed in a shocking car crash inside a Paris tunnel. Moments before the fatal accident, Diana had been fleeing from French paparazzi as they tried to document her affair with businessman, Dodi Al-Fayed.
While describing their last telephone conversation with Diana, William and Harry spoke of their regret at the brevity of the last interaction with their mother. “I can’t necessarily remember what I said, but all I do remember is regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was,” said Harry during an interview at Balmoral Castle.
Harry’s brother, the Duke of Cambridge, particularly regrets how “blasé” he was during that fateful conversation.
“If I’d known what was going to happen I wouldn’t have been quite so blasé about it. That phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily.”
In the months to come – with 2017 being the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death – numerous documentaries will be aired in countries across the globe. But none are as highly anticipated as Diana: In Her Own Words, which will reveal for the very first time the contents of Diana’s candid conversations with her voice coach.
The video tapes were recorded between 1992 and 1993, when Princess Diana had enlisted the services of Mr. Settelen to practice speaking in preparation for a future tell-all about her life with Prince Charles that was aired on the BBC program, Panorama.
While seated in her private residence at Kensington Palace in London, the footage shows the Princess of Wales reflecting on her embattled relationship with Prince Charles, as well as various peripheral experiences of her time as a royal.
In 2007, the BBC purchased a three-minute segment of the famous tapes for a whopping £30,000 to be used in a documentary that was later abandoned. At the time, the BBC cited concerns about the macabre content of the tapes as a reason for scrapping the £100,000 project.
But now, Ralph Lee, a producer for Channel 4, has acquired the elusive tapes and commissioned Diana: In Her Own Words, to be directed by Kevin Sim.
According to Lee, the documentary would be an “important contribution to the historical record.” He also believes that “the tapes, which show a relaxed and off-duty Diana, are hugely illuminating about her personality, humor, and charm.”
Billed as the only known uncensored account by Diana herself, Lee says that “this film gives Diana a voice and places it front and center at a time when the nation will be reflecting on her life and death.”
According to Variety, in the recordings, Diana can be heard reflecting on her pre-royal childhood, her fraught marriage to the Prince of Wales, and her highly scrutinized profile in the public eye.
The Channel 4 documentary will also feature interviews with Diana’s friends, acquaintances, and closest confidants.
During the sessions with Mr. Settelen, Diana is said to disclose intimate details of her suspicions that Prince Charles was having an affair with his current wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles. Diana apparently reveals how she confided in her mother in law, Queen Elizabeth II, detailing her fears of Charles’ affair.
In the early 1970’s, before his marriage to Diana, Prince Charles had been in a relationship with Parker-Bowles. But the affair ended, and the Prince of Wales ultimately married the mother of Princes William and Harry.
However, in 1986, Diana began to suspect that Charles and Camilla had reignited their romance despite the fact that the Queen would vehemently frown upon an extra-marital affair.
Describing her exchange with the Queen, Diana said, “I went to the top lady, and I’m sobbing. And I said, ‘What do I do?'” After which the Queen simply replied, “I don’t know – Charles is hopeless.”
Biographer Andrew Morton published a controversial tell-all in which Diana revealed details about her feelings towards Parker-Bowles. In one particular recollection, Diana recounts how she managed to pluck up the courage to confront Camilla about the affair.
It was at the 40th birthday celebration of Camilla’s sister that Diana showed up unannounced to have a word with her husband’s mistress. According to Diana’s own account, she approached Charles and Camilla to ask for a private moment with her rival.
“OK, boys, I’m just going to have a quick word with Camilla, and I’ll be up in a minute.” The two men “shot upstairs like chickens with no heads,” Diana said, adding, “I could feel, upstairs, all hell breaking loose — ‘What is she going to do?'”
Upstairs, calmly facing Camilla, Diana allegedly told the mistress, “I know what’s going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that.” After a short exchange between them, Diana ended the conversation by telling Camilla, “Don’t treat me like an idiot.”
It is said that the tapes will include personal admissions by Princess Diana, including her infatuation with her royal bodyguard, allegedly Barry Mannakee, who died in a motorbike accident.
The exclusive documentary is also slated to feature interviews with Diana’s long-term friend, Dr. James Colthurst, as well as her ballet teacher, Anne Allan. Both Colthurst and Allan will be speaking on the record for the first time.
Diana: In Her Own Words will be televised in August on Channel 4 in Britain and PBS in the United States. The documentary will mark the 20th anniversary of Diana’s tragic and sudden death in 1997.
[Featured Image by AP Images]